History of Glen Ord Distillery

The MacKenzies of Ord feature largely in the development of the distillery. The family was granted lands in the west of Scotland by King Alexander III as early as 1263. Thomas MacKenzie of Ord inherited the estate in 1820 and set about rejuvenating the area. He leased land for the distillery to be built, as he envisaged an industry where local men could have all-year round employment. It also gave him a ready market for his barley.
There was competition from 9 small licensed distilleries in the area, most being run as co-operatives of 10-12 tenant farmers. The entire barley crop was used for distilling – the quickest means of turning it into cash to pay the rent.
There are records of an ale house and meal mill on the Glen Ord site in 1549, the meal mill finally closing in 1958. There was also an extensive piggery, taking advantage of by-products from distilling.
The distillery was water-powered by 2 large water wheels driven by water from Loch nam Bonnach and Loch nan Eun. Water for mashing was then taken from the Cuckoo Well and added to the whisky’s distinctive character.
The distillery employed 18 people.
The first licence holders were Robert Johnstone and Donald McLennan, trading as Ord Distillery Company. They both subsequently went bankrupt.

1838

The MacKenzies of Ord feature largely in the development of the distillery. The family was granted lands in the west of Scotland by King Alexander III as early as 1263. Thomas MacKenzie of Ord inherited the estate in 1820 and set about rejuvenating the area. He leased land for the distillery to be built, as he envisaged an industry where local men could have all-year round employment. It also gave him a ready market for his barley.
There was competition from 9 small licensed distilleries in the area, most being run as co-operatives of 10-12 tenant farmers. The entire barley crop was used for distilling - the quickest means of turning it into cash to pay the rent.
There are records of an ale house and meal mill on the Glen Ord site in 1549, the meal mill finally closing in 1958. There was also an extensive piggery, taking advantage of by-products from distilling.
The distillery was water-powered by 2 large water wheels driven by water from Loch nam Bonnach and Loch nan Eun. Water for mashing was then taken from the Cuckoo Well and added to the whisky’s distinctive character.
The distillery employed 18 people.
The first licence holders were Robert Johnstone and Donald McLennan, trading as Ord Distillery Company. They both subsequently went bankrupt.

1870

McLennan died and his widow married a bank clerk from Beauly, Alexander MacKenzie, who was put in charge of the business. Around this time, Glen Ord was sold in Singapore, S. Africa and other British Colonies.

1896

The distillery was sold at a price of £15,800 to James Watson & Son, whisky blenders of Dundee. This was their 4th acquisition of a distillery as they were committed to obtaining high quality whisky - sales were principally of blended whiskies, particularly 'Watson's No. 10'.

1917-1919

Glen Ord was closed by government order during the First World War, in the interest of conserving barley for foodstuffs.

1923-1930

Watson’s went into voluntary liquidation. The distillery was sold to Thomas Dewars & Sons of Perth, who amalgamated with the Distillers Company Ltd. Ord was transferred to the ownership of Scottish Malt Distillers, a subsidiary company of DCL.

1939-1945

Closed again for greater part of Second world war.

1949

Electricity came to Glen Ord, until then the distillery was lit by paraffin lamp.

1958

Meal mill closed and the single malt was sold as Ord.

1961

Closure of floor maltings; new Saladin boxes built.

1966-1968

The 2 coal-fired stills increased to 6, all of which were fitted with steam-heated coils. A large mechanical floor maltings was built beside the distillery to meet the needs of 7 SMD distilleries, however Glen Ord continued to use their own Saladin boxes until 1983.

1985

Guinness take-over. Malt and grain distilling becoming United Distillers Ltd.

1994

A new visitor centre is opened in an old warehouse with an exhibition area with artefacts from throughout the history of Glen Ord.

1997

Guinness and Grand Metropolitan merge to form DIAGEO, with head offices in London.

2006

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 year old is released in selected Asian markets.

2012

Plans are announed to convert the old Floor and Saladin Box malting buildings so we can double production.
A new mashtun, 10 washbacks and 6 copper stills will be installed with completion in summer 2014 bringing our capacity up to 10 million litres a year.

2013

Newly arrived at the visitor centre the Singleton of Glen of Ord 15 and 18 year old whiskies are now available to sample and buy.
This is the first time these whiskies have been available in Europe.

Today

The distillery is now owned by Diageo Distilling, one of the largest spirit producing companies in the world. Visit our distillery to discover how we still produce our whisky to time honoured traditions. The Singleton of Glen Ord is bottled as a 12 year old only for the Asian market and for sale in our Visitor Centre shop.

To find out more, please visit our distillery.

To find out more, please visit our distillery.

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